Youth Ministry When You Have a Bad Night
August 29, 2016
Updated May 19, 2022
2 comments 213 views
So I just need to hear what I already know to be true. Bad nights happen to everyone...right? I am new to the job and just when I think I have them all figured out, a new school year begins and my students change a bit. Seniors leave and sixth graders join us. I expected the older ones, who were left, to lead the new ones.
Instead they are encouraging disrespect (when I teach) as well as an attitude of "you can't teach me anything new...I have been in church all my life." I actually had a student say tonight, "Because sin is bad, is that your next point? Did I beat you to it?" Really? So I am frustrated and I need to know it happens to everyone.
I am working as our interim Youth Minister and have been for almost a year, with no prospect of them hiring someone else...which is good, I don't want them to! I just need some advice.
The interrupting, and cutting up while I am teaching is getting out of hand. I don't know quite what I should do. I have little youth leader volunteer support right now but I am working on that as well.
Any thoughts on how to teach the ones who think they know it all?
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Keep up the good work. If there has been turnover in youth group leadership lately they may be testing you as to your response. In that case it may not be as much about a new style of teaching to get to the kids who seem to know it all as it is about hanging in there with them, and in a sense, suffering with them in that way.
But yes, there are bad nights sometimes. I knew plenty when I did youth ministry. Ask me about the World's Largest Bowl of Cheese Popcorn sometime. (Or don't, please don't.)
If there is a real disruption going on in the group, that can frustrate not only you but the kids who are there to learn or contribute. I found a helpful book in dealing with these situations with respect is Les Christie's When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Students.
Gin: I know that it's been awhile since you posted this "cry for help", but I felt compelled to respond to it. After almost 30 years of youth ministry experience, changing cultures and changing churches, the one thing that is constant is that nothing stays constant :>).....I hope that you are not still dealing with the discouragement that you were experiencing in August but if you are here are a few suggestions. First, don't take it personally. It's more than likely not you or your techniques, but youth a that age are changing. Their bodies are changing, their emotions are changing, and their status in life is changing. With all this change comes testing traditional foundational truths in their lives. What does that mean practically?
Sometimes, all it takes is 1 or 2 in the group to ruin the evening, sometimes more.
(1) Try not to take things as a personal assault. Rather than seeing it as a defeat, see it as a challenge to overcome it. That means mixing things up until you find just the right mix that works. For some it's not a person speaking but carefully selected videos. For my group it's breaking into small groups in the middle of the devotion to discuss issues in smaller groups and they don't get antsy by moving them around and not sitting listening to a "blah, blah, blah" speech for an hour. We don't do devotions every week, that way they area looking forward to it when the week for devotions rolls around. Also, one week a month we have someone from the church or a Christian School/University come in and give a Testimony. This is actually the highlight of the youths month in yth grp.
(2) A huge part is having good leaders alongside and helping you out. I know you said that yth leaders were scarce in your church.ASk Council and parents for ideas in this area; maybe you'll find a person you wasn't even thinking about. Give assigned duties. If you're forte is devotions, then you do that every time. If you have a leader that is good and inspirational at choosing games; have them do that. Another person may like to choose and set-up snacks.....let them do it. If you delegate good - having people do what they are good at and enjoy - your yth grp will be good.
(3) Communication is also a Biggy.....Communicating with both the parents and the students. That may mean emailing parents but face booking youth; have a bi-yearly calendar by planning an entire half year at a time; see what activities work and what doesn't and you'll know what to eliminate for the next year. BUt remember the Yth Ldr Mantra, the only thing that is constant is that nothing is constant. Try some of those things that didn't work a few years later and they may work with a different set of bodies.
(4) Finally, we end EVERY yth grp evening with 10-15 minutes of circle prayer. Give the a topic to pra about: things to be thankful, the person to their left, family, school and watch how the spirit will move them. It may be awkward at first but by the end of the year, I promise you will have a majority of yth praying confidently in public.
So, that just a few ideas; sorry I didn't see this sooner; if you have any other questions or would like to contact me directly my email is [email protected]....Always Serving Him, Albert!
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